Norway mounts Swedish onslaught
by Andy McKenzie
Norway raided the Swedish Royal Palace, taking the top five places in the mens cross country World Cup knockout
sprint on February 28.
- With King Carl Gustaf XVI looking on, their Scandinavian rivals swept the board in the mens
competition and added victory in the womens final at the event, set in the royal castle gardens in the centre of
- Built in 1697-1754, the Royal Palace houses a historical background of the Swedish royal family with art collections,
tapestries and marble statuary occupying the 608 rooms.
- The king is a known fan of the sport, listing downhill and cross-country skiing amongst his hobbies. He even competed
in the 90km Vasa Race, Swedens famous annual cross-country skiing competition, in 1977 and 1987.
- And despite the lack of a home win, he could not help but be impressed by the sparkling performances of the Norwegians
- Odd-Björn Hjelmeseth was crowned the mens champion, comfortably beating his compatriot Tore
Bjonviken in the final. Haavard Solbakken finished in third, with Tore Arne Hetland taking fourth place.
- The womens event was a closer run thing, with 1999 overall winner Bente Martinsen taking the title in a
sprint finish with Pirjo Manninen of Finland in the final.
- It was Martinsens 13th World Cup win and moves her into third place in the overall standings. The Norwegian is
now just 63 points behind second placed Larissa Lazutina of Russia, who was beaten into fourth in Stockholm by
Finlands Kati Sundqvist.